By in Random

Starting With A Blank Slate

I had actually used the search term "empty" on Pixabay but one of the images it brought up was this blank slate. Since I didn't really know what I was going to say about empty, and since school is about to start back up, and being that my principal likes us to consider each student as a blank slate behavior wise, I decided to go ahead and use this image.

For the past three years as a sixth grade teacher in a middle school it was easy to let the students start off with a blank slate behavior wise. I didn't now if they'd been model students or hell-on-wheels in elementary school. My expectation was always that they would behave the way they should and most of them did. Sadly, it only takes two or three who don't want to cooperate to spoil it for the whole class.

The problem I face this year is that I am moving up to the seventh grade with my students so I already know who the "good" children and who the "problematic" children are. Try as I might, there is no way I can go into the classroom without preconceived notions of what to expect from whom. And therein lies my conundrum.

Image Credit » by geralt

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Feisty56 wrote on August 11, 2015, 9:01 PM

I think that in theory, accepting each student as a blank slate behavior-wise is a wonderful idea. Like many theories, though, it's not realistic for the position you find yourself in this year. Realistically, if you can still give each student the opportunity to show him/her self this school year, then I think you'll be behaving to the intent of the theory. I wish you the best.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 11, 2015, 10:07 PM

I plan to give the students the opportunity to show me they've matured over the summer and can behave appropriately in the classroom. I also intend to make sure they understand that the seventh grade Mr. Davis can not be as forgiving and laid back as the sixth grade Mr. Davis was. That may be the hardest part. But sixth graders are truly still elementary school children even if they are at a middle school. Seventh graders are junior high school, and it is a different paradigm. I've never agreed with the middle school concept to begin with and over the years have become more convinced it is a bad idea done to save money and not for the benefit of the children.

lexiconlover wrote on August 11, 2015, 10:35 PM

I forget that a lot of schools start middle school at sixth grade. When I went it was just 7th and 8th. I don't know if I could teach middle school

bestwriter wrote on August 11, 2015, 10:46 PM

Putting anyone in grooves sometimes can cause trouble. People change you know emoticon :tongue:

Paulie wrote on August 11, 2015, 11:09 PM

When I was teaching, I always had different students each year. I remember that one year I had more than 200 different students in at least six different classes. The biggest problem I had when teaching was talking in class when I was talking or other students talking with me.

cheri wrote on August 11, 2015, 11:35 PM

I like starting on a blank slate. It gives me a feeling of fresh and new start

wolfgirl569 wrote on August 11, 2015, 11:48 PM

Maybe try pretending that you are new and see if that helps. I know it will not be easy to expect the usual ones to act out but hopefully they have grown up a little over the summer and if you can start out acting like they will be good maybe they will. Fingers crossed for you

Kasman wrote on August 12, 2015, 7:30 AM

People tend not to change. I'm guessing your expectations will be fulfilled!

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:03 AM

It always tickles me when I tell people I teach middle school and they say something like "Bless you" or "you poor dear." I think elementary would be much tougher with today's self-centered, attention-needed kids. Today's fifth graders on average show the maturity of second and third graders from ten years ago.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:04 AM

I am hoping and praying that some of the children I taught last year have changed for the better or changed schools.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:05 AM

This will be the first time I've taught the same cohort of students I taught the previous year.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:07 AM

I start out every year on the assumption the students will behave appropriately but the ones who aren't going to show themselves early on.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:08 AM

Grown ups rarely change but children can as they mature. I"m hoping for a few minor miracles.

chrisandmark wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:36 AM

I like the idea of you seeing the students as a blank slate, it's more fair than the teachers who decide they don't like a child based on what another teacher thought of them the previous year!

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:44 AM

I learned early in my teaching career, after a tour in the Army and twelve years as an accountant, and years as a Scout leader, not to let other teachers opinion of a child color my approach to that child. Teachers who've never done anything but teach often have a very different take on things than those of us who entered the profession later in life.

Feisty56 wrote on August 12, 2015, 12:05 PM

It is amazing what a difference a year of age means to kids and their behavior, outlook and more. You sound as if you are well dialed-in to all of that and will make the necessary adjustments. I think the kids that get you as their teacher have much to be thankful for, even if some of them don't realize it at the time.

bestwriter wrote on August 12, 2015, 10:36 PM

'Or changed schools' so that you do not have to see them again? emoticon :grin:

Paulie wrote on August 12, 2015, 11:19 PM

At least knowing their abilities, it will be easier for you to group them for teaching and learning exercises.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 13, 2015, 2:36 PM

That will be a big plus starting off the new school year.

Shellyann36 wrote on August 15, 2015, 10:59 PM

I have to hand it to teachers and teacher assistants. When my 26 year old was in middle school I went to sit in on an English class and help out. My then teenager was one of those problematic children. I do not know how teachers do it. English is a difficult subject to teach if you have a class full of students willing to learn. If you have any kids that are rowdy it takes forever to settle them down and just as soon as you get one group quiet another group starts. After that one visit to those classes that day I volunteered when I could. God Bless Teachers!

Now since my son was one of those problem children I solved that problem really quick for them. He was in every class with his best friend who was ADHD. They were getting in trouble together. After they were put in different rooms my son calmed down and did not get into daily trouble.

DWDavisRSL wrote on August 16, 2015, 9:41 PM

I have seen the situation with your son happen over and over. When a child is truly ADHD I can sympathize and try to work with them, but some students who are just undisciplined and their parents are always making excuses or flat out denying a problem exists I have very little patience for. The first group honestly cannot help themselves, the second group knows how they should behave and deliberately chooses not to.

The problem is especially keen in boys. At that age they don't really understand why the truly ADHD child is given more leeway and chances to behave, but they get detention or time-out for the same thing. It is a conundrum. I thank you on behalf of your children's teachers for your support.